Coronation Street spoilers follow.
Coronation Street bad boy Gary Windass features in dramatic scenes next week as Kelly Neelan bows out from the show.
In Kelly's last episodes, she finally discovers the truth about how Gary was responsible for the death of her father Rick in 2019.
Kelly responds by planning revenge, tipping off Rick's former client Kieron and offering him money to deal with Gary once and for all.
This ultimately backfires when Kieron and his criminal associates double-cross Kelly and threaten her life once again, leading to a high-stakes rooftop showdown and a shooting.
Mikey North, who plays Gary, recently caught up with Digital Spy and other press to share details of what's in store.
How did you feel when you found out about this storyline?
"This is the week that everyone wants to get involved with. It's like getting picked for the Cup final! It's a pleasure to be involved with and hopefully the episodes go down well.
"I think it was inevitable that this is the way it would end. I'm just really happy that the story has come full circle and we're ending up where we began.
"I can still remember Kelly coming into her dad's office about four years ago, like a little schoolgirl. I think she said: 'Where's my dad?' I think that was her first line. It feels like yesterday, but now we're four years on and I can't believe it. It ends where it all started. It's been a real pleasure."
Are you relieved that the secret of Rick's murder is finally coming out?
"I think it was always going to happen, it was just a case of when. I couldn't be more happy with how it's turned out. This block of episodes has been the best block I've ever been involved with in 15 years here.
"We've seen the collaboration of all the departments coming together to make this work. Just the nature of it all meant that we needed everyone to pull together and they really have.
"The director, David Beauchamp, has made it such a collaborative effort from everyone. Everyone's been involved and I can't speak highly enough of him and how this block has gone."
What were your first thoughts when you read the scripts? Did you think the climax of this storyline would be as dramatic as it is?
"I guess we never really know how it's going to turn out until we read the scripts, but I couldn't be more happy. There's a lot of emotional stuff in there and it's got a bit of everything for me personally.
"There's a lot of stunts in there, which I always enjoy doing. There's a little bit of fighting, there's a little bit of angry scenes, but there's also a lot of sad scenes and showing every side to all of the characters."
There are two sides to Gary…
"I'm glad this softer side of Gary is starting to pop up more and more now. Hopefully it's starting to round him off as a character. He's grown up a lot in the last few years and I've really enjoyed getting to play that side, but obviously with the knowledge that he could go at any point.
"There's the protective side, where Gary wants to look after his family. I always say everything he has done has mainly been with his family in mind and he wants to do the right thing. Hopefully that is the redeeming quality of the character and how we can progress him forward, if he makes it."
As part of the dramatic week, we see Gary in the woods where he buried Rick. Rick's former client Kieron tells Gary to dig his own grave. Does Gary fear for his life there?
"Gary always tried to be one step ahead. He's got himself out of many a sticky situation down the years. I always say he's like a cat with nine lives. But this is getting pretty drastic now.
"I think the crux of it is, when it's his life at stake, he always knew it would end like this. But when he finds out that Kelly's involved, he is willing to die for that girl and that's the start of this story and this is what plays out. I think he feels more fear when it comes to other people being in danger, as opposed to himself."
Gary thinks he needs to save Kelly, but if he does save her, she could shop him in to the police. Does that worry him?
"When they're up on the roof later in the week, Gary will happily go off the roof for that girl. He genuinely would jump off if it meant saving her. That is his main aim. Whether he dies or not is of no consequence to him, he's just looking to save Kelly. That's how things play out."
You've had your fair share of stunts playing Gary. How does this latest action compare?
"We've had a bit of everything. For the rooftop scenes, we've been working with a thing called a volume wall. I think it's the way all the Marvel films are shot now, and shows like The Mandalorian use this technology.
"It's completely new for us as actors. We're working in a black studio and there's nothing to really go on, which is a new thing for us to have to deal with. It felt more like doing theatre than doing TV. I loved it, it was a really new experience.
"We also had stunts in the woods. There's another fight with a shovel, which obviously ties in with all the Rick stuff. I've had a bit of everything and it's not one that I'll forget in a hurry. I've loved every bit of it."
The volume wall is like a green screen, isn't it?
"They can do so much with it, it looks more like a movie. This image of Kelly up there in a red dress, the lighting really pops off it and it looks fantastic. Hopefully once it's all cut together, and they've done what they need to do with it, it'll add to it even more."
We know these are some of Kelly's final scenes. Is it emotional when someone is leaving the show?
"Fake life and real life blends into one. You're aware it's the last time you're working with someone. The last scene of this block, it's quite emotional to even think about it. That was my last scene with Millie [Gibson, who plays Kelly] and it was certainly emotional. Hopefully you'll get to see that when it comes out."
It's bad timing for Gary, as it's just when he's becoming a father figure to Kelly.
"They did introduce this more tactile father figure who's looking out for Kelly, which just heightens the end product. The very last scene in particular was very emotional to film.
"Jake Windass, played by little Bobby Bradshaw, has moved back in with us as well. Me and Samia [Longchambon, who plays Maria] were saying how it's been a real family unit these last few weeks. There's five of us in that house now.
"He's a cracking little actor, is Bobby. I know we're losing Millie, but Bobby is one to watch for the future as well – he's a real little star in the making. Hopefully we'll get to see more of him as well."
What has been the best thing about working with Millie?
"She's an amazing girl. I'm so proud of what she's become and I'm proud to say I was there at the start. She's going to go on and have an amazing career, I'm absolutely sure of it. She'll be sorely missed here."
Do you have a favourite moment of working with Millie?
"The last thing we shot will definitely be the one. It wasn't the easiest thing to film but it was good. Also the lighter moments, like when she caught Gary dancing in Maria's dancing gear. Even her first scene, looking back, when she first came in. She's going to be a star, whatever she does."
How do you feel about doing so many stunts?
"I'm lucky that they do let me do a lot of my own stunts here. Obviously they feel that I'm able to get hit by a car or jump off a roof – I don't know whether that's a good thing or a bad thing! It's one of my favourite parts of the job.
"I think I'm more of a frustrated stuntman than an actor! It's something I always enjoy to get my teeth stuck into. Though weirdly, one of the baddy's sidekicks in this storyline is actually an ex-champion boxer and let me tell you, when he strangles you he's not acting, he's doing that for real. Millie will vouch for that as well."
We know that the action on the roof culminates in somebody being shot. If Gary survives the big week, do you think he'll be able to move forward and have a normal life?
"I guess a big part of it was that people who knew Rick found out. Rick's wife found out and his daughter has found out now.
"I think it's more about trying to redeem Gary for what he's done. Deep down, he doesn't intend to do wrong. He is a good, kind-hearted family man deep down, but he does have that temper. I just hope that we've found a way to redeem him. Hopefully this block of episodes can go a long way to doing that."
"We'll see what happens. Things tend to go back to normal and then something else seems to crop up. Let's see what's next – if this isn't the end!"
Coronation Street airs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 8pm on ITV and streams on the ITV Hub.
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